When Sandra Bullock was 35, she transformed from the lovable but rough-around-the-edges FBI agent Gracie Hart to an undercover beauty in "Miss Congeniality." That kind of transformation may seem like a good setup for a comedy, but it's not very realistic.
However, according to researchers at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, even in middle age women can dramatically change their future.
It seems basic lifestyle changes, adopted even after years of unhealthy behaviors, can reduce women's 26-year risk of any type of stroke by up to 25%, and of ischemic stroke by up to 36%. (Ischemic stroke is the most common type, caused by a blood clot in the brain, and women's average age of a first stroke is 75.)
That’s important because women are more likely to have a stroke, to end up with poorer health and physical function post-stroke, and to die from stroke than men.
Total and ischemic stroke risk is reduced most effectively by:
• Stopping smoking
• Getting at least 30 minutes of exercise daily
• Eating three servings of 3 to 6 ounces a week of fatty fish such as salmon and sea trout
• Eating nuts, like walnuts and almonds, almost daily
• Ditching red meat
• Losing weight if you need to
The effective ways to reduce the risk of hemorrhagic stroke are achieving normal blood pressure and, according to the researchers, increasing the amount of fish you eat.